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Showing posts from January, 2016

The Witzard's Week In Rap: "Prime Cuts" from A$AP Rocky, Earl Sweatshirt, Giovanni James, Guilty Simpson & Massive Attack (January 24-30th Ed.)

Let's face it, there are a lot of great (and not-so great) Hip-Hop tracks, music videos, albums, mixtapes, EP's, etc. released on a weekly, if not even daily, basis; a person like myself, who single-handedly runs what I would deem a moderately "successful" publication, whilst working a 9-5, manipulating a relationship with my wonderful girlfriend, family, and friends, and leading a generally hectic existence, there isn't always time to cover every Hip-Hop release I would hypothetically like to within an average week's time. Hence, I've decided to enact a weekly "The Witzard's Week In Rap" (still a working title) column akin to Stereogum's 5 Best Videos of The Week or Status Ain't Hood, which will hopefully, be published every Friday or Saturday night. It may or may not include songs/videos that I have/hadn't exactly had the chance to cover throughout the course of the week prior and will generally showcase five companion short, y…

Franz Ferdinand & Sexwitch Producer Mr. Dan Recruits Stones Throw Spitter Guilty Simpson for Sparse, King of Rock-reminiscent "Firewater" (Speedy Wunderground)

Guilty Simpson is a seasoned Motor City street-worn, hard as nails emcee, yet quite surprisingly, one of the most genuine, nicest artists I've ever encountered during my 5+ years running The Witzard. Simpson has quietly released a number of nearly flawless albums produced by Madlib, Oh No, Apollo Brown, an ill-fated and ultimately, scrapped album co-produced by J Dilla & Mr. Porter, a 6-song EP recorded with Small Professor, and most recently, my absolute favorite album of 2015, Detroit's Son helmed by Australian producer, Katalyst. I would almost personally attest, as a long-time Guilty Simpson fan and Stones Throw supporter, that his collective non-album material is arguably just as strong, if not even stronger, than his crop of full-length albums; throughout the course of his sprawling 25-year career, Guilty has unleashed acclaimed one-offs with the likes of the late great Dilla, who somehow managed to clear samples of James Brown and The Beatles, Jazz-minded electronic…

Iggy Pop, Josh Homme & Members of Arctic Monkeys & Queens of The Stone Age Unveil "Gardenia" On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (Loma Vista)

"The collaboration started with a text message from [Iggy] Pop to [Josh] Homme, who recalled, "it basically said, 'hey, it would be great if we got together and maybe write something sometime – Iggy,'" The New York Times wrote within a recently published piece announcing Pop & Homme's feverishly-awaited collaborative album, Post Pop Depression. "We corresponded by text and prose poem for a while... I write poetry. It's a wonderful way to get to know somebody," Homme continued whilst on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert alongside band mate Iggy Pop on the eve of the album's spontaneous Thursday night announcement. Iggy Pop and Queens of The Stone Age frontman Josh Homme performed on Colbert with a suit-clad six-piece band, which included Dead Weather guitar/keyboard player Dean Fertita, Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders, Troy Van Leeuwen on guitar, and former Superwolf bassist Matt Sweeney. It almost feels as though Post Pop Depress…

Linkin Park Emcee Mike Shinoda Remixes Homeboy Sandman & Aesop Rock's "One Step Closer"-sampling "Get a Dog" (Stones Throw)

"You may find that after listening to the project, it's nearly impossible to get it out of your head. It's only a matter of time before you share it with others," was a running unofficial mission statement during the relatively quiet roll-out for Homeboy Sandman & Aesop Rock's December-released and incredibly infectious Lice EP. Sandman & Rock, two seasoned underground vets who have collectively been active in the rap game for about 20 years and have forged ties with Blu, Felt, Madlib, Kimya Dawson, Das Racist, Hail Mary Mallone, El-P, Nevermen co-founder Doseone, Atmosphere emcee Slug, and Paul White. Charles Hamilton-produced Lice EP closer "Get a Dog" utilizes a phenomenally unexpected and rather hard-hitting sample culled from Linkin Park's 2000 break-out hit, "One Step Closer" and now, group emcee Mike Shinoda has submitted an original remix, effectively bringing the sample-based collaboration full circle. "I don't k…

Kanye, Madlib & Kendrick Lamar Unveil Junie Morrison, Ghostface Killah, Johnny Guitar Watson & Larry Graham-sampling "No More Parties In LA" (G.O.O.D. Fridays)

"Hey baby, you forgot your Ray Bans
And my sheets still orange from your spray tan
It was more than soft porn for the K-man
She remember my Sprinter, said "I was in the grape van"
Uhm, well cutie, I like your bougie booty
Come Erykah Badu me, well, let's make a movie...
No more parties in LA
Please, baby, no more parties in LA"

- Kanye & Kendrick Lamar
Kanye West is without a doubt one of the most charismatic, unabashedly outspoken to a fault, and arguably creative artists in all of Hip-Hop and even all of music; in my eyes, West, the self-proclaimed "No. 1 Rockstar On The Planet," could easily be likened to Classic Rock monoliths Queen, who once performed "Bohemian Rhapsody" at Glastonbury. For purposes of this very analogy I'm trying yo set up, that would in turn, make President Obama's favorite emcee, Kendrick Lamar, David Bowie in our "Under Pressure"-referencing equation. Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly, along with

Bandcamp Remixer ayyy donkey Unleashes Super Mario Bros-reminiscent 8-bit Death Grips Collection, "Bitmilitary" Ahead of Bottomless Pit (Thirdworlds?)

Bitmilltary by ayyy donkey
Death Grips are a notoriously on again, off again, and currently reformed Hardcore Punk-infusing Sacramento-based "Aggro-Rap" band; if you're not familiar, just think, a hypothetical musical ménage à trois between Black Flag, Beastie Boys, and Gravediggaz – two of which are coincidentally sampled throughout their genre label-pulverizing debut mixtape, Exmilitary. Death Grips' underlying influence can, believe it or not, be heard on everything from recent father of two Kanye's own 2013 Dancehall-leaning Aggro-Rap magnum opus, Yeezus to recently deceased incomparable Thin White Duke's final album, ★ (Blackstar) which was additionally influenced by President Obama's favorite rapper, Kendrick Lamar. While we patiently await Bottomless Pit, the long-rumored follow-up to Death Grips' double-disc March-April 2015 "reunion" album, The Powers That B, an amateur remixer known as ayyy donkey has taken it upon themselves to unl…

"Space-Age Exotica" Producer Pablo Diaz-Reixa Re-emerges After Six-year Sabbatical with Wearable El Guincho Album, Hiperasia & Mala Rodriguez-featuring "Comix" (Nacional Records)

Barcelona-based Latin Alternative producer Pablo Diaz-Reixa's 2010 Young Turks/XL album under his El Guincho guise is easily a shimmering David Bowie & Michael Jackson-influenced Spanish-language Psych-Pop masterpiece. I've been (im)patiently awaiting Diaz-Reixa's proper follow-up to his nearly flawless Pop Negro for a solid year or so and now, it seems like he's finally readied his fourth album, Hiperasia for a digital release February 12th and a physical release a mere month later on March 11th. For those not exactly familiar with El Guincho's frenzied sample-laden output, it sounds like something similar to Vampire Weekend's Paul Simon Graceland-influenced "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" era material, which has additionally been described as Tropicália, Psych-Pop, and "Space-Age Exotica" stylized rhythms. Formerly the drummer for seemingly defunct Experimental-Batucada group Coconot, Pablo Diaz-Reixa has released three albums and an EP since…

"I Don’t Know Where I’m Going from Here, But I Promise, It Won’t Be Boring;" Remembering David Bowie & Aristophanes 貍貓's "Dreams of Caves" (Thin White Duke-approved?)

Rock "N" Roll and quite arguably, music as a whole lost one of its most charismatic, uniquely individual, and beloved figureheads when David Jones aka The Thin White Duke aka Ziggy Stardust, otherwise known as the one and only David Bowie unexpectedly passed away early Sunday morning, January 10th, amongst the company of dear family and friends following an 18-month battle with cancer. I'm not even going to attempt to write a fully fleshed-out obituary to Bowie, hands down one of my all-time favorite performers since I was about 12, but I figured I would at least assemble a few of my thoughts and feelings into an all-too-brief hand-written tribute; a proper David Bowie obituary can be viewed over at Stereogum, which was written by Tom Breihan and served as a loose structural basis for this very piece. Throughout the course of his storied and ever-developing 52-year career, Bowie released some 28 genre-blending studio albums, produced one of the most critically-acclaimed

Kanye Drafts Producers Frank Dukes, Boi-1da, Mobb Deep Co-founder Havoc & Stones Throw Beat Konducta Madlib for "Real Friends & No More Parties In LA" (G.O.O.D. Fridays Revival)

I've recently been reading Shea Serrano's phenomenal New York Times best-selling The Rap Yearbook (a Hanukkah present from my wonderful girlfriend), in which he evaluates, ranks, and proceeds to meticulously break down "the most important rap song" from every year between 1979-2014. I would honestly, be flat out lying, if I said it hasn't largely affected the way I look at Hip-Hop singles in the grand scheme of the genre as a whole over the past few weeks; with that said, I would even go as far as to claim that Kanye's repeatedly upped, deleted, re-upped, deleted again, etc. double-header "Real Friends & No More Parties In LA" is quite arguably the most important Hip-Hop song of 2016. Its first 3/4's, "Real Friends," was collectively produced by Kanye, Frank Dukes, Boi-1da, and Mobb Deep co-founder Havoc and features a half-sung/rapped hook delivered by Ty Dolla $ign, while its latter 1/4 was hand-crafted by Stones Throw heavyweig…

White Denim Recruit 2015 US Air Guitar World Championship Finalist Michael "Operation Rock a [Meow]" Lovely for Tumultuous Riff-laden "Holda You (I'm Psycho)"

"Three years on from their critically acclaimed "barbeque" record Corsicana Lemonade, White Denim are back with more than just a new album to commemorate. Their sixth record, Stiff – out 25 March, 2016 via Downtown/Sony Red – is a return to the Austin quartet's frenetic rock band roots, and is both a jubilant thrill ride and joyous celebration of their past ten years," Downtown Records gushed within a label-sanctioned press release on the heels of Stiff lead-off single, "Holda You (I'm Psycho)."Stiff was preceded by frontman James Pertalli's lone solo outing under his newly-minted Bop English moniker, Constant Bop (April 2015) and a series of blistering 70's-indebted White Denim covers including "Custard Pie,"Fargo-premiered "Just Dropped In (to See What Condition My Condition Was In)," and "Light Up or Leave Me Alone." Mere weeks ahead of Thanksgiving, Downtown sent out an email to anyone who had purchased C…

Detroit Emcee Red Pill Gets Animated to The Beat of Alex Goose's "90's Money" at The Hand of Lions Collaborator RUFF MERCY (Mello Music Group)

Alex Goose is, to the best of my knowledge, the first (and likely last) Hip-Hop-loving Middle American producer who's been lucky enough to have worked with vastly different musicians like underground gran-wizard, prolific rapper-producer, and revered Jazz enthusiast Madlib AND hit-after-hit-penning Indie Rock mavens, Weezer; aside from maybe only Uptown Funkateer and London-based producer and taste-maker Mark Ronson, who's recorded genre-blending material with everyone from Ol' Dirty Bastard to Doo-Wop revivalist Amy Winehouse. While he recently had the opportunity to remix Freddie Gibbs & Madlib's critically-acclaimed Piñata with samples culled from Now-Again Records founder Egon's storied re-issue vaults and back catalog, Goose has previously worked alongside the likes of Hip-Hop greenhorn emcees Kevin Gates, Jake Troth, Donnis, and Detroit-bred wordsmith Red Pill. "You may recognize the next Alex Goose-produced track from Silicon Valley. Red Pill lays h…

What a Time to Be Alive: Kanye Unleashes Jimmy Fallon & The Roots-referencing "FACTS" ahead of New Year's Eve 2015-16 (G.O.O.D. Music)

"The "Wolves" song came from a conversation that me and Drake had, where we was going to do an album together and the album was called Wolves... me and Jay [started] talking about Watch The Throne, then Drake went and did all the records with [Lil'] Wayne and did the tour," Kanye unexpectedly revealed to The Breakfast Club radio host and one-time Catfish co-detective Charlamagne The God last February on the heels of his spirited SNL 40 medley. Lest we forget that Kanye once produced Drake's 808's & Heartbreak-reminiscent "Find Your Love;" making Kanye's recent "Yeezy, Yeezy, Yeezy, just jumped over Jumpman" What a Time to Be Alive interpolation and apparent Drake diss all the more perplexing. Not entirely unlike Paul McCartney-assisted "Only One" released over New Year's Eve 2014-15, "FACTS" was quietly uploaded to Soundcloud mere hours ahead of this year's annual New Year's festivities. Metro…

The Witzard Premier: WEEKENDS Multi-instrumentalist Adam Lempel Tunes AM Rock Radio to Folky Indie Rockin' "Don't Know Why" (Friends Records)

"Adam Lempel started making solo records as a departure from his work in Baltimore Noise Rockers WEEKENDS. Focusing more on songwriting and heartfelt lyrics, his first record Adam Lempel & The Heartbeats stood out in the Baltimore DIY music scene because it was so unapologetically straight-forward. After getting into the Conservatorium van Amsterdam to study classical music composition, he moved to Amsterdam where he currently lives," reads a brief description attached to Baltimore by way of Amsterdam multi-instrumentalist Adam Lempel's about me page. Lempel and his noisy partner-in-crime, Brendan Sullivan quietly put out three guitar feedback-drenched albums and and aptly-titled Acoustic Tape, Vol. 1 between 2008-2013; right on the cusp of Indie Rock's frenzied WEEKENDS/Weekend/The Weeknd mass confusion felt echoed across the blogosphere. However, WEEKENDS have been on an indefinite hiatus since the majority of copies of their then-forthcoming third album, &quo…